An answer to the 2000 Easter Challenge on CT to include the following items in a story:
1. Easter Basket
2. Marshmallow Peeps
3. a biddy
4. Stuffed Easter Bunny that makes noise.
5. suspect or crook dressed as Easter Bunny
6. Easter egg dye
7. Easter egg hunt
8. chocolate rabbit
9. 25 small kids under age 5
11. Megan, Simon, Joel, Rafe, Brown
12. Jim doing something embarrassing
13. dog painted pink.
Jim rapped loudly on the French doors before opening them.
"Come on, Chief, up and at'em. I know you were up half the night finishing a paper but we've gotta be at the park in less than an hour." He left the doors open and proceeded to the kitchen.
"I'm up, I'm up," Blair called as he hastily pulled on his jeans and found a clean shirt. "What's the weather going to be like today?"
"A nice, spring day from the looks of it. Sun's out, we should be able to get away with light jackets."
"Good, I've had enough winter for awhile."
"You mean you've finally warmed up?"
Blair rolled his eyes, "Yeah, so tell me, how does Major Crimes end up working the city sponsored egg hunt? Did Simon tick off anyone we should know about?"
Jim chuckled, "No, we do this event every third year. We switch out with Narcotics and Vice. Officially it keeps the uniforms on the streets instead of tied up with a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds."
"And unofficially, we can keep an eye on all the loose little kids without a lot of uniforms standing around intimidating everyone," Blair yawned.
"Exactly and you'll still have Sunday and Monday morning to catch up on your beauty sleep," Jim handed his partner a cup of coffee for the road.
"Thanks, man. I really need this."
Jim parked the truck in one of the last spots alongside the park. Simon walked up as they climbed out.
"Nice of you two to join us."
Jim rolled his eyes at Blair, "We're here before nine, Sir. What's the assignment?"
"You and Sandburg get to bodyguard."
Blair was confused, "Bodyguard? Who? The Easter Bunny?"
Simon nodded and explained, "Last year he got mobbed by so many little kids that he tripped and rolled down the hill, broke his leg in three places."
"The suit's next to impossible to see out of, Chief. The bunny can't see where he's going."
"I see, and who gets the honor of being the bunny?" Blair asked.
Simon shrugged, "Someone the city sends over. He's over there in that van."
Jim nodded and they headed across the street. Walking around the back of the van, Jim knocked on the door.
"Just a minute. I'm about ready. How are they doing out there?"
Blair took a look back at the park, "They've got the kids all lined up and are about to start the egg hunt. Hey Jim, get a load of this. Isn't that Megan in her Cuella DeVille coat?"
Jim homed in on the figure in question and chuckled, "Yeah, that's her. I guess she was serious when she was threatening to use egg dye on her dog."
Blair squinted at the figure, "Huh?"
"Her dog's pink," Jim explained.
"Pink? Will it come out?"
"Should, as long as she used the kid safe water soluble stuff."
Blair scanned the park, "Where is everyone else?"
The sentinel leaned back against the side of the van, "Joel's handing out Marshmallow Peeps to the two and three year old crowd and it looks like Rafe and Brown have their hands full chasing down an escaped biddy."
The back door of the van opened and two bunny clad feet dangled toward the pavement, "Biddy? What's a biddy?"
"A baby chicken," Blair explained not able to stop himself smiling at the sight of a man in a giant white and grey bunny suit.
"Oh, have they started yet?"
Jim stepped around the door, "They just started."
"OK, gentleman, help me get around to those bushes while they are distracted. Can't have the kiddies seeing the Easter Bunny climbing out the back of a van."
They each took a bunny arm and led the guest of honor across the street and into the thick bushes at the edge of the park. They sat on the ground to wait for the kids to find the majority of the eggs before the bunny made his grand entrance.
"Hey," the bunny asked, "peek out there and tell me if you can see a little blond girl in a pink dress with yellow tulips on it."
Jim parted the newly sprouted leaves and took a look. "Yeah, she's over in that far stand of trees."
The bunny seemed relieved.
"Somebody you know?" Blair asked.
The bunny head nodded, "My daughter. I sent that dress to her last week."
"Divorced?" Ellison asked.
"Yeah, two years ago, it wasn't pretty."
Jim had his head in the bush again, "It's show time."
They helped the bunny up and handed him a big basket of individually packaged chocolate rabbits. He took a giant leap and hollered, "Happy Easter, Everybody!" as he emerged from the bushes.
Jim and Blair followed a few paces behind as the bunny hopped towards the kids. Joel and Megan shooed the kids toward the bunny, her pink dog yipping all the way. They met in the middle. Jim and Blair smiled and laughed at the kids swarming around the bunny collecting their treats from him with squeals of delight.
Jim heard something and turned, "Sandburg," he motioned with his arm at an ambulance pulling up next to the van the bunny had arrived in. Simon was motioning the attendants toward the van. "Wonder what's going on?" Rafe jogged across the street. They moved to meet him.
"We've got a problem, Jim. The guy from the sanitation department that was supposed to be in the bunny suit's been found unconscious in the van. Somebody whacked him over the head."
"Then, who's in that bunny suit?" Blair and Jim exchanged glances just as a woman screamed. All three men turned to see the Easter Bunny running toward the edge of the park with a little blond girl in his arms.
From the other side of the park a woman ran still screaming, "My baby! Bring back my baby!"
The trio took off after the bunny. Ellison out distanced his companions quickly until he tripped on a stuffed Easter bunny that had been dropped by one of the children. It's final squeak sounding as the Sentinel landed hard on top of it, knocking the air out of the man and the stuffed animal. "Get him," he wheezed as he struggled to his feet.
Sandburg continued after the renegade rabbit with Rafe hot on his heels. The bunny suit prevented the kidnapper from moving at full speed. When he was just a few steps behind, Blair launched himself at the fleeing bunny. They both rolled into the bushes, Blair hitting a tree in the process and slumping to the ground. Rafe grabbed the little girl, carrying her to safety. The bunny rose and tried to run but Ellison had caught up to them, gun drawn.
"Just stop right there."
The bunny threw off its headgear, "She's my daughter. I have every right to see her."
"No, I have sole custody. How dare you take my baby," the woman took the crying child from Rafe.
"She's my baby too. I have visitation rights. I have a right to be part of her life but you won't let me near her."
Rafe moved in with his handcuffs, "There are better ways to deal with the problem."
Jim kneeled beside his guide, "Chief?"
"I'm ok, I think. You get the number of that truck?" Blair sat up, obviously dazed.
"Easy, let me see," Jim's fingers lightly probed the impact area on the side of Blair's head. "You may have a concussion. We need to have you checked out, Chief."
"We've already sent the ambulance to the hospital," Simon said as he kneeled beside them giving Blair a critical eye.
Joel made an appearance through the bushes, "Listen, guys, I don't know what's going on here but if that bunny doesn't finish what he started out here we're gonna have some very upset kids."
"Jim, I'm ok. It's just a knock on the head. I can wait. You get in the bunny suit."
"Simon will help me over to the truck and I'll rest there until you're finished, then you can take me home or have me checked out, whatever. We can't disappoint those kids, Jim. We can't."
"We screw up a simple assignment like monitoring an egg hunt and Major Crimes will be a department wide laughing stock," Simon added.
"Jim, please." In the end it was Blair Sandburg's lost puppy eyes that did it.
"Alright, Rafe, get him out of that suit." He flashed a look toward his two friends, "And you two, will owe me big. I can't believe I'm doing this."
Blair sat in the truck resting his aching head against the glass. Simon stood by the open truck door. They were both chuckling as they watched the awkward way the Easter Bunny was dealing with the children.
"Looks like he's warming up to the assignment, now," Simon remarked as Jim picked up a little boy and carried him over to the merry go round. "I think he can see better in the suit than anyone else can."
Blair slapped Simon on the arm, "You owe me."
"I got Ellison in the bunny suit. Ten bucks, man, pay up."
Simon grimaced but pulled out his wallet, "Remind me not make any more bets with you about what Jim will or will not do."
"Just wait until the other guys hear that it was Jim in the bunny suit playing Ring Around the Rosie with the kids."
"Blair, do you have a death wish?"
Late that afternoon Jim opened the door to the loft. "Here you are, Chief, home sweet home."
Blair yawned, "Good, what is it about the ER that makes a person exhausted?"
"I think it's all the waiting. You feel up to some dinner, Chief? We've still got enough left over soup from yesterday for one more meal."
"That sounds about right. I don't want much. I just wanna sleep right here," Blair lay down on the sofa after kicking off his shoes.
"Don't get too comfortable there, it's my job to wake you up every few hours and make sure you're still right in the head, not that I'll be able to tell one way or the other."
"Oh ha ha, Jim. You just wait until the guys in the other departments hear about your bunny hopping this morning."
The sentinel shrugged, "Somebody had to save the day, and you know I'm always first in line to save the day, just me and Superman."
Jim shook Blair's shoulder gently until his eyes fluttered open, "How many fingers, Chief?"
Blair squinted at the hand in the dim light of dawn, "uh, 12? Hey, do you know you bear a striking resemblance to the Easter Bunny, nurse?"
Jim smiled, "Yep, tried to tell that doctor that I couldn't tell if you were mentally stable or not. How are you feeling?"
Blair sat up, "Better, sore, but my headache's not so bad. Hey, what's this?" He leaned over and picked up an Easter basket off the coffee table.
"It's an Easter basket."
"Who brought it?"
"Well, it is Easter morning," Jim's smile broadened, "Don't you believe in the Easter Bunny, Chief?"
Happy Easter, everybody!
16 April 2000
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